“Social Distancing” or “Spatial Distancing”: Living from Home

Much has happened since my last post, when Paul and I were still in Florida. We left Florida, spent five days in South Carolina, and arrived home safely on Friday, March 13. I had a list of topics I wanted to develop, but evidences of a fallen and groaning earth have encroached upon all of our plans. 

Paul and I did get sick with the flu while in South Carolina, which caused us to shorten by a few days our two month long, southern experience. We are almost recovered, but we too, like most Americans, are now hunkering in at home. 

In this post, I’m going to offer some “good ideas” (I hope you’ll agree) for living at home during this season of “social distancing.” I’d prefer to call it “spatial distancing,” because I think we should work all more intentionally during this time at cultivating relationships,  just from a spatial distance. 

In this pandemic environment, we know it is best for most people to work, study, and play in the environment of their home territory. Children and college students are doing school from home. Many employees are working from home.

Our Chicago area daughter, who works for Expedia in downtown Chicago in one of those skyscrapers, is working from home now. Glad for her. This is her first week, and it’s going well so far. She will also exercise at home instead of going to the gym.

Our other daughter lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two elementary school age boys. This is the first week the boys are home, and it has been more of a spring break week. On Friday, they will receive their first school from home assignments.  

For many, the changes are huge. For me, there is much familiar in home living and routines, yet this scenario is much different. We live under a cloud of unknowing and uncertainty. We need to ramp up our faith, our prayer, our leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and our care for one another.

Because Paul and I homeschooled our daughters for so many years, I see opportunity in this unexpected call homeward for many families. Also, because in the last twenty years, my health has called me to make my home my main hub (working away from home only part-time), I have more experience, beyond the role as a homeschooling mom. I haven’t been able to let an employment location dictate my sense of career and contribution.

I’ve written from home. I’ve studied from home. I pursued a large portion of my doctorate from home. I’ve ministered to others from home. Living in Arizona for many years with grandsons in Ohio, we learned to be long-distance grandparents, sending lots of love-packages to two, little boys — from one home to the distant, other home.

My husband, Paul, was not so tethered to our home. He pursued his career in Air Traffic Control at various airports and finally at a Lockheed Martin facility in Prescott Valley, Arizona. For many years, he used a number of his vacation weeks each year to go on mission trips in various countries.  Pleased he could do all these things, I would say, “You can go to the world, but the world has to come to me.”

The only mission project I ever have joined in with Paul has been to the Good Samaritan Mission in Florida. Since much of my life has been centered at home, I have a few ideas about making home the hub of your daily life. 

1. Good Mental Attitude     

 We begin by setting ourselves up for a good experience with a good, mental attitude.- infused with the strength of our Lord.                                                               

You know that the context in which the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” includes the kinds of circumstance we find ourselves in during this pandemic. In verse 12, Paul writes, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (NASB).                                                                           

His secret was the strength of Jesus: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (NASB). We’re reading these verses in backwards order. Now, move up to Phil 4: 11. Here, Paul claims that he has learned (it did not come naturally) to be content in whatever circumstances in which he found himself. That’s one of the hardest lessons of my life! Paul’s secret, revealed here, is the strength of Jesus infused into him: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Christ gives it. We don’t have it. Our mental attitude must be one that is open to accepting God’s strength given to us through Jesus. “Lord, I need your strength; I accept it. Thank You!”


2. Rituals                                         

Days go best with rituals to organize the day.                                                                                                 

Ready Rituals prepare our bodies for the day. Up, cleaned, dressed, presentable! Do so as if you were going out. Look good for your family and to promote your own good attitude. You love your family the most, so why would you want to look any less presentable to them?  If you live alone, you need a good physical appearance to support and express your desired, good attitude.                 

Big Rock Rituals are the big goals of the day. Use a planner and schedule about three, big goals for the day (or however many you must). Include a daily spiritual goal as a big rock goal. List the pebble-sand goals after the big rock goals. These are the smaller goals that will fit in around the big ones, some attempted today, and some will get moved down the week.                                                                                      

Food Rituals are important because you need to be a good steward of your own health and the health of each family member (to the degree that you influence them). I’ll let you run with this.

Then there are Nighty-Night Rituals which help you to get to bed so you can start tomorrow well.   You get the idea. You need rituals because you are human: limited, forgetful, sometimes lazy. Can you trust yourself without a plan?

Everyone in your house needs one.

3. A Clean and Orderly Home

Clean and organize your house, a room and space at a time. You may need to add cleaning goals as part of your Ready Rituals and Rock Rituals -for you and for each member of the family

When you work, learn, play, and majorly live at home, you need to take your space very seriously. If you want order on the inside of you, you need order around you. If you want happy on the inside of you and your family members, then remember that order is the primary ingredient of beauty, peace, and pleasure.

Just read Genesis chapters one and two, and note the orderly process and product of God’s creativity, and His attitude toward His work. Read Job 38: 1-7 and see that all of creation was pretty happy with God’s work too! What a great place to live — in God’s wonderful universe.  Our homes are our personal-family universes. Treat yours as such. 

4. Juxtapose Opposite Activities

Place opposite activities back to back.  By this, I mean, when you look over your goals, often you can mingle them in various orders. Sometime you cannot. Do what you need to do. But when you have opportunity, place jobs that take differing types of energy and put them back to back. For instance, I break up heavy study with a few minutes of jumping on the mini-trampoline or playing the piano. I need to do all these things, but interspersing them revitalizes me more (depending upon my unreliable health) than taking a nap. I’ve saved time! I’ve blended big rock goals with pebble goals and sandy goals. They fit better together. My attitude gets a jolt of enthusiasm. Let’s go!

5. Talk

Talk. That is, take very seriously everyone’s relationship with everyone else. If you live alone, talk. Talk to God. Talk to yourself. Sing. At times (not all the time), listen to background music. Talk: text, email, Facebook, Twitter, snail-mail, Skype, Face-Time. . . .  Talk. Cultivate (work at) important relationships: with key individuals from work,  with family members, with some folks from church. Be quiet to concentrate when you need to; then connect. Talk. 

Ah. A good chat on the phone will do Aunt Mary good. She lives alone out on that farm, you know! And old Joe from church. And Susie who is expecting her second baby. How are they doing? Connecting will do you good too.

6. Read

Read.   Read every day. Books, magazines, blogs (especially mine). Well, I don’t write enough for you to read my work that often. However, I have ten years worth of posts, probably an average of one post a month. Lots of back articles to read, if you will sort through them!  And Read Aloud to Each Other!!!   You are never too old for this. Paul and I still read aloud to each other. Recently, we read a book aloud — daily continued reading — to Mick and Lilly (note last post) while in Florida. They weren’t used to this sort of thing and loved it. Very bonding. Makes great memories. Just choose good books which are worth experiencing together.

Need some ideas for read-alouds? Need some ideas for good, online blogs, vlogs, videos, podcasts, shows, YouTube programs, classes, and such? Stay tuned. I’ll put up some ideas in my next post, and I’ll post again within the week. (Under emergency circumstances, we need more posts.)   

Remember Philippians 4:13 (and context):  “[We] can do all things” (living without what we normally live with, which is much more than in many countries or in any previous century) “through Him” (that’s Jesus) “who strengthens” us (energizes us; fills us with just what we need when we need it).  

I’d like to encourage you to read the entire book of Philippians. (Maybe read it aloud to each other.) Read about the background of this book. You’ll learn that Paul was in prison when he wrote it! Ha! If you aren’t used to working/schooling from home, you may feel that your house is a prison. It’s not. Especially if you take my above advice seriously.

With a Spirit-filled attitude, a clean, organized home environment, and good rituals (with goals and follow-through strategies), we feel more comfortable living primarily from home.  Plus, as we cultivate our relationships and creatively love each other in this time of “spatial distancing,” our homes adjust to fit us and our families better. 

Not only was Paul in a Roman prison when he wrote this encouraging book to the church of Philippi; the Philippians encouraged Paul by sending him financial resources while he was in prison! Even two thousand years ago, long distance communication (love and support) was possible. Today, we can be much more creative in the ways we connect even while maintaining a “spatial distance”!                                        

From my home, I’m praying for you!

Recommended prayer book. It will help you open the depths of your mind/heart to God and will show  you how to pray the Scriptures back to God. Rich truths.










Categories: Christian Reader, Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Parenting, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on ““Social Distancing” or “Spatial Distancing”: Living from Home

  1. Rick Shepherd

    Sorry to hear you two were sick in SC….Glad to hear you are home safe and sending out helpful advice!…..Good to see your post!

    On Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 2:06 PM Journey North Character wrote:

    > Karen Thomas Olsen posted: ” Much has happened since my last post, when > Paul and I were still in Florida. We left Florida, spent five days in South > Carolina, and arrived home safely on Friday, March 13. I had a list of > topics I wanted to develop, but evidences of a fallen and groan” >

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thanks, Rick, for your comments offered so soon after I posted this! I pray that you and Mary will stay healthy and faith-encouraged!

  2. Marty

    Goals and rituals in the home! Rocks, pebbles, and sand are such helpful images to categorize the former! To combine a clean and orderly environment in one’s house/yard/car/shop with pacing (juxtaposition of activities) and reading is at the essence of my own healthy soul, Karen.

    You have given voice to such good gifts from the Father in our respective lives. Another good gift has been the reformed theology which has framed these values for me over the years–a theology with a worldview that proclaims that all of life is religion (spiritual/worship). The final suggestion you offer is “talk”; I have found myself more of a listener than a talker, but both must coexist for meaningful communication.

    My observation is that most people don’t value or possess the skill of using questions to facilitate reciprocal and mutual “talk.” Thanks for such helpful “food for thought”; I trust that this “reply” is reciprocal and mutual “talk.” Time for the “nighty-night ritual.” (: >) Marty

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, Marty, for interacting with my thoughts. You are right regarding my fifth point, Talk. I lack clarity here. I encourage talking (because I want to encourage reaching out during this time of “spatial distancing”) but I should have put equal emphasis on the listening, and active listening at that. Listening is only implied in my statements: take relationships very seriously; cultivate relationships; connect with others, and I list connecting activities such as text, email, Face-time, and such.

      Good point. Listen. Your observation that most people don’t value or possess the skill of using questions to facilitate reciprocal and mutual ‘talk’ ” is so true. Good conversation skills need to be cultivated, intentionally, which is fundamental to cultivating relationships with others. It has to be intentional, because it usually does not come naturally. Thank you, Marty, for rounding out this point! A better word choice than Talk for the fifth point would have been Converse. Even then explanation would be needed, but a conversation is a two way talk. Talk and listen. Ask clarifying questions. Listen and talk. You model this outstandingly, Marty. Thank you!

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